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Weekly Conversation: Talking "Real" Journalism and Kingsbury on Injuries

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Seth and Travis discuss real journalism in today's media environment, plus we opine on Kliff Kingsbury's thoughts on injuries and how he reports them each Monday.

I see my house
I see my house
NASA

Seth: Well, it was really pretty nice to get that win. I mentioned after the game that if felt like a true team win in the sense that everyone helped pull this along. What were your general impressions of the game?

Why add the Double-T Insider video here? Why not? Good kids putting out a quality product. Love the segment about the student athletes helping at the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center.

Travis: It just felt good to finally get a win. There were still some gaps and, as Kingsbury said, it was far from their best game, but it just felt good to win. On top of that they were playing against the backdrop of a WVU upset over Baylor, so the win adds to the feeling that there might be some real momentum right now. It's interesting to see Kingsbury adjust his play calling to a more run-oriented attack. I've seen some true journalists writing about how reticent he is to do it, but I don't think it's true. He ran the ball at Houston and A&M and he'll do it here when he needs to. Right now, he needs to.

More than anything else though I'm excited to watch the defense play. They seem to be improving by leaps and bounds every Saturday and could be a solid unit in the 2nd half of the season. I would be thrilled to see this team find a way to get 3 more wins.

You've written about the big "Krunkness 2014" party and its after effects. You also mentioned how tough an event like that is for Kingsbury to have to put up with. It reminds me of the Alamo Bowl Kickoff Luncheon that I attended in late August that featured Mack Brown. He talked about how difficult it is as a head coach because you basically have 85 kids that you're responsible for and you try to control everything you can but sometimes you just can't. As a dad, how would your approach be to managing your teams extra curricular activities if you were in Kingsbury's shoes?

Seth: Oh man, I have no idea how to handle that many people. I was a teacher for a year and a half and I was, somewhat responsible for those 150 or so kids. And responsible is a bad way to say it. I was responsible for them in the sense I had them for an hour, but even then, you get a pretty big sense of responsibility. You want to make sure that they all do well, whatever they are doing.

I don't even know how I would go about reminding those kids that their first obligation is to Texas Tech. Bottom line. And it's really pretty simple for me in that if you go somewhere and get hurt then Texas Tech football is going to have a problem utilizing your services. Someone gets hurt or shot or stabbed then aside from the safety issue, there's the scholarship to think about and if a player can't play or gets into too much trouble, then you've got issues. It's like the Josh Keys and Tyler Middleton situation. Kingsbury made it clear that Middleton wasn't involved in any sort of off-field issue and just wanted to transfer. That's understandable. But Keys is gone for violation of team rules. In the middle of the season where Texas Tech could have really used his ability, he's just gone and will, most likely never be heard from again. Coaches cannot afford to have players not be good people and that's the hammer. If you can't be a good person then Texas Tech will move on.

One thing that we didn't really get a chance to discuss is Blayne Beal and Don Williams making comments on Twitter about how there are fewer and fewer "real" journalists out there. I noticed that you used the term "real" reporters in your answer above. We've already discussed earlier in the year how we went back and forth on whether or not to really disclose the Davis Webb injury news. The reason Beal and Williams took to twitter is that the current opponent's blog, Frogs O' War, announced that QB Treyvone Boykin, was out with a injury. Frogs O' War retracted their story and noted that they were tricked, that their sources essentially fed them a line. Then, we have Sports Illustrated, the bastion of sports reporting, who alleged all sorts of improper conduct at Oklahoma State, only to have OSU and the NCAA issue a report saying that the allegations by SI were generally unfounded. SI released a statement saying that they stand by their story, but their story really could have been written about any football program in the U.S. Do you see any distinction between the two situations and if so, what is it?

Travis: I took both of their comments in completely different ways. Don is an old school newspaper guy and I've always liked him. He seems like a straight shooter and has been good at his job for a really long time.

Beal on the other hand just seems to be in over his head. Some of the stuff he sends out doesn't make any sense. I remember him complaining about the World Cup and the US advancing even after a loss to Germany earlier this summer. And the dumb comments he made about the SEC last year, and some of the meaningless tweets he sends out on a regular basis are just mind boggling. While the Grant news was breaking on Sunday night he was retweeting questions from Tech fans asking where the team would stay when they play Baylor in November. Really? More often than not he just seems tone deaf.

Take for instance his comment about "true" journalism. Who is a true journalist in his eyes? Does he consider the PR/media department hired and funded by Tech to be true journalists? After all, it's Double-T Insider and other outlets that the university has established that are producing and distributing content surrounding the athletic programs. The most extensive interviews every week are conducted and distributed by the media arm of the university (and they do a really good job by the way, so this isn't a jab at them). With those facts taken into context, just what the hell is he talking about with his "sad" commentary? Journalism is whatever you think it is-- whether that comes from old school newspaper reporters, media outlets that receive their paychecks from the institutions they are reporting on, or bloggers like us wearing our sweatpants and living in mom's basement.

The outlets that do it the best; that produce timely, trustworthy and quality content are going to ultimately draw the most viewers, listeners and readers. It's that simple. There's nothing sad about that. -Real talk from Travis about reporting

And regardless of my fondness for Williams or my lack of respect for Beal, they both have to wake up to the reality of sports reporting in 2014. There are tons of outlets reporting on any variety of topics. The outlets that do it the best; that produce timely, trustworthy and quality content are going to ultimately draw the most viewers, listeners and readers. It's that simple. There's nothing sad about that.

As far as comparisons with SI, I think that's a good point as well. Look, reporters make mistakes. I don't know what Evans' motivation was or is, just as with FOW. Both made some mistakes but only FOW has owned up to it as of now. That can be taken one of two ways: either SI and Thayer Evans know their story is legit, or they refuse to admit a mistake. We probably won't ever know the entire truth. But the competition in the business is real. That's partly why Williams and Beal want to shout their competition down. It's partly why Evans and SI went to press with if nothing else, a less than air-tight expose. And it's why FOW published a story that they completely believed was true. The same people that are complaining after the fact were the same ones that rushed to read the breaking story from the source.

The bottom line is this is a cut-throat, thankless business for the most part. We're all competing for eye-balls and as a result people are going to make mistakes along the way. What is sad though is that the competitiveness in the business causes wedges even among the same fan base. At Tech we have the RP guys, the RRS guys and the VTM guys.

Maybe we should all get satin jackets with our logos emblazoned so when it goes down, we'll all know who to throw the trident at.

So back to Kingsbury. You mentioned a few weeks ago how it's "convenient" when he doesn't see a player the Monday before his press conference so he doesn't really have to address the seriousness of their injury. I guess that makes sense from a "plausible deniability" standpoint and helps him in his desire to keep opposing coaches guessing when he has a banged-up QB. I did find it unusual for him to take the same stance regarding Grant on Monday. Let me get this straight: you have your star receiver involved in a possible stabbing, and you haven't seen or talked to him 36 hours after the fact? Does that seem odd to you?

Seth: Oh heck yes. And I'm right there with you about Williams and Beal. Williams is not an investigative reporter, he is a beat reporter and beat reporters are supposed to take press conference things and make them into stories. If I remember correctly about the World Cup, I think it was something about losing a game, but still advancing, which is what the Texas Tech baseball team did to get into the College World Series. Zing.

So yeah, Kingsbury did say that he saw Grant and that the cut was under his chin, but no one pushed him on the situation with Grant and if he talked to Jakeem to find out what happened. This was pretty much it:

Q. If you find out more facts, is it something that could lead to any suspensions?
COACH KINGSBURY: I'm not sure right now. It's an ongoing investigation. All we saw was Jakeem. We were worried about his well-being. He's okay, and that's where we're at with it.

The more we get into this, the more we find out that I think that Kingsbury pretty much despises talking about injuries and status updates and all of that. So really, he's pretty much all Leach on that front. -Seth opines on Kingsbury discussing injuries

The more we get into this, the more we find out that I think that Kingsbury pretty much despises talking about injuries and status updates and all of that. So really, he's pretty much all Leach on that front. The only way we find out about injuries or players being kicked off the team is on Saturday before the game when, and I'm guessing here, Level is give the go-ahead to tweet about the injuries and status of the players. And I'm totally fine with this from a standpoint of giving out information. He probably does the exact same thing on the radio to update folks listening. That's part of his job.

The question of if I have a problem with Kingsbury being coy about that stuff. No, not really. Seriously, last year the strength and conditioning coach, who was by all accounts a really good guy, became a whipping boy for all of the injuries. Meanwhile, this team has 12 injuries in one game or something ridiculous like that. And for the record, I'm not blaming the current strength and conditioning coach. Sometimes injuries happen and the fact that we, as fans, don't know all that much about them, is fine with me.

And Kingsbury being coy is also fine with me. It might be more accurate for him to say that most injuries are a game-time decision and he'll go from there, maybe rule out the guys that are actually out. One other thought is that injuries for guys might be the last thing on his mind on Monday. He's been gearing up for the next opponent for a day and a half.

Three questions:

1. What's your favorite beer right now?

2. I hear there might be a really cool place to tailgate on Saturday. Any details?

3. Any thoughts on Saturday?

Travis: 1. I've been buying 312 Goose Island Urban Wheat recently and really enjoy it. I also had some Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale a few weeks ago and it was good and there's a local brewery called Boerne Brewery that has some good stuff, especially the Old Courthouse Ale.  As I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate some of the darker, heavier beers so it's more like a complement to my meal rather than a chance to chug 10 or 12 while watching a game. What about you?

2. Yes, the Fort Worth chapter of the TTU Alumni Association will have a tailgate near the Trinity Episcopal Church-Westcliff. The address is 3401 Bellaire Dr. S. Ft. Worth TX 76109. They were gracious enough to give me a parking pass so I'll be there, hopefully pretty early with a few friends. Hopefully everyone can stop by.

3. Yes, the Fort Worth chapter of the TTU Alumni Association will have a tailgate.. I'm not really anticipating a win, but who knows. Maybe this week will be our surprise win of the year. I'd take it.

Seth: Oh, I found Lagunitas IPA (yeah, I like IPA) at Costco and it's delicious and it's cheaper than anything I could buy at the beer store because, ya know, Costco.  As far as expectations for the game, I'm expecting a 14 to 20 point loss because I think TCU is really good and Texas Tech is going to have some bad match-ups on TCU's wide receivers.

Kenny Powers

Ed. Note by Seth C: Three things occurred to me after writing this and seeing the GIF that Travis added: 
1) We've all going to know who the VTM'ers are because they'll have koozies and so we may not need satin jackets. 
2) Another person that Kingsbury may have learned from regarding disclosing injuries is Bill Belichik, who hates talking injuries.
3)  I hope we see Bradley Marquez doing the Kenny Powers double guns-up all day on Saturday.